Today's topic came about because of a discussion I had with a fellow trainer whose opinion I value and respect. Also, with Xmas being so close this is also the time of year when people may be looking for that perfect Xmas gift and possibly thinking a gym membership or Boot camp membership would fit the bill.
I would like to focus primarily on Boot camps for two reasons: #1 they are immensely popular right now and it seems a new boot camp is popping up almost every week, and #2 boot camps will involve working directly with a personal trainer or fitness instructor and a gym membership may not.
When shopping or looking for a boot camp or group fitness to attend, it is really buyer beware. The fitness industry is an unregulated industry and a certification for a personal trainer is as easy as entering your credit card number on the internet. Also, it is important to not only check credentials of the instructor or personal trainer, but you also need to verify that they are insured. The boot camp instructor should be able to provide you a copy of their insurance – if they can't or aren't willing then run the other way and seek elsewhere.
One determining factor of a well run boot camp is an orientation or assessment session. These are normally booked separately from the start of the boot camp and may be done as a group. But, this is the time when the instructor will discuss what you can expect from the class. The instructor will also want to discuss any health concerns, previous injuries or physical limitations you may have. At no time, should you be joining a boot camp for the first session and be thrown in with an already running group. This is just an injury waiting to happen. If there is no orientation session or assessment discussed in your initial inquiry, then once again look elsewhere.
You may want to go and watch one session to see how they are conducted. Is the instructor able to watch the whole group? Is there an adequate warm up done before the exercise portion begins? And, going for a run is not a warm up! There should be mobility/dynamic warm up drills done before asking the body to perform. Is there adequate stretching done at the end of the program?
Is the instructor/trainer qualified to teach everything that is being done in the boot camp? With the increase in popularity of kettlebells specifically, not everyone is well qualified to teach their proper use. As with a lot of the "latest trends" in the fitness world, they are not always appropriate or in the best interest of the client. Just because it looks fun and trendy, doesn't make it safe and a good choice for new exercisers.
Boot camps can be fun. They are filled with like minded individuals and can develop a great sense of camaraderie within the group. But, they also needed to be well researched. Do not just pick the boot camp closest to home, or the cheapest. Do your homework. Look for credentials of those providing the service. Check for insurance and ask about orientation or assessment prior to start of classes. Don't just join the first boot camp you come across or see an ad for.
A little homework on your part will go a long way to providing a safe and enjoyable exercise program that you will continue to participate in and remain injury free.
Till next time,
"Monitoring, Mentoring, Motivation"